Thursday, January 5, 2012

Santorum the Populist


One of the few interesting developments of the Presidential campaign is the effort to market Rick Santorum as a Populist candidate.

Now why, I wondered, would any Republican candidate claim to be a Populist -- or have others claim it for him? Is this like Sarah's "populism?" But hers was based on... well... sex. There's a wonderful character sketch of her over at Naked Capitalism that I highly approve of:

PP: Well, I always thought the Sarah Palin phenomenon was a sexual thing. She tapped into that whole MILF thing that was launched, in particular, by the Desperate Housewives television show. Husbands wanted her, housewives wanted to be her – and pornographers made films about her. It was this (rather unusual) domestic sexuality that then gave her supposed power. It was this that turned her into the ‘great woman’ – the seemingly unknowing housewife who, despite her humble appearances, actually knows ‘something’ that she’s not letting on. *Queue Sarah Palin wink*.

That might be the single crudest political analysis ever undertaken, but I think there’s more than a grain of truth there. Seriously, look at the winking video linked above; that stuff was focus grouped and orchestrated!

Anyway, leaving poor Palin aside, let’s move onto that other thing that gets the conservative juices flowing to no end: war. Broadly speaking, what is it that fascinates conservatives about war so much?

Santorum has no sex appeal that I'm aware of -- and the more you learn about his... well, proclivities... the less appeal he has. But his blue-collar roots are supposed to inspire some sort of admiration for his fortitude and grit and that, in some inexplicable fashion, means that he's really just one of the guys you'd want to have a lemonade with. (I have a hard time imagining him with a beer for some reason.)

I wouldn't want him around to tell you the truth, and I wouldn't be surprised if he was one of the boys all the others picked on in school and got his lunch money taken more often than not. He prolly got beat up a few times, too, over nothing. Just. Because. He's got that look about him.

And he's been thoroughly reamed recently because of it:



Carmel High School in Mundelein, Illinois I assume refers to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and no doubt it was run by the Carmelite Brothers and Sisters. Oh please, let it be so! Sure enough.

And that could explain a lot. He strikes me as a smarmy, irritating, judgmental scold, and I know way too many Catholic Believers who are just like that, many of them having learned their annoying ways at Catholic school. They model themselves after some particularly repugnant Brother or Sister and believe that they are thereby sanctified.

Sigh.

Well, that aside, Santorum's claim to have some connection with The People has only the slightest validity. It's not at all clear that he even has "blue collar" roots, as his father was a clinical psychologist who worked for the VA. Santorum has been a governmental functionary, lobbyist, or elected almost all of his adult life. How this is "blue collar" I have no idea.

The New Republic's notice of Santorum's semi-populism also notes its essential fraudulence. It's an obvious campaign ploy. David Brooks, however, waxes almost rhapsodic. Finally! A candidate for and of the white working class base of the Republican Party! And by extension, America!

Yay! Subtext, of course, is that he doesn't have a prayer of winning, but if he can spread his populist message far and wide enough, Rs (no doubt under Aristocratic Romney) will all benefit.

No doubt he can have a cabinet position: Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare; maybe Secretary of Labor. Something where he can do the most damage. And call it holy.

The fact that Republican Mandarins think they even need a "populist" to balance the Aristocrat they are going to nominate -- and who is already being promoted as the successor to Obama in some media quarters -- is an interesting development in that it suggests that the Revolutionary Occupy Movement may have had much more influence on the political process than any of us suspected.

That's not to say there haven't been failed Republican "populist candidates" in the past. There have been plenty of them. But by positing Santorum as the "populist" torch bearer for this cycle, the Republican Mandarins are -- to my eye -- grasping at straws. They obviously had no intention of making a popular appeal this time around. It was clear they believed they could take the White House with the simplest of ploys, manipulating their rubes with vague promises like they always do and using their TeaBaggers as ground troops.

But this time, something intervened, a real populist movement.

So, Santorum got nominated to thwart any genuine populist rising among the Rs. Of course once he's done his part, his bubble will be popped. Oh yes.

It's kind of brilliant in it's own nefarious way.

6 comments:

  1. Back when I was an altar boy at St. Mary Magdalene (no lie, the hooker church...), we used to make fun of kids who were actually, rather than just socially, religious. We called them Holy Singers. They were all homely misfits like Santorum, and all came from families too large for their means, so they were never fashionable looking. Recipe for ridicule in a fairly wealthy neighborhood; and surely a spur to grow up to be resentful scolds.
    That's what I see when I look at Santorum (the guy, not the stuff...), and on some level I feel sorry for him. But not much.

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  2. Santorum's populism? Oh that's easy. He's a populist because his religious beliefs are stupid.

    With Santorum, the wealthy, educated members of the Republican party snicker behind his back because he's a rube. (Note: They weren't snickering at W. , who clearly had a form of Christianity that the Good Lord and him had worked out betwixt them. Protestantism is superior to Catholicism in that way, a Protestant President can be a religious fanatic and not take orders from Pope Rat. Well, that's why Henry VIII became a Protestant, after all.) They think that translates, somehow, into populism. "Clearly the other rubes and bumpkins will think that this moron is one of them!" clinking chamaign glasses and chortling to each other.

    Seriously, I'm surrounded by fairly religious Catholics my parents and people at work. I'd say most of them take the Church prohibition on birth control about as seriously as the Renaissance popes took their vows of chastity. These are college educated professionals and with my parents and co-workers, fairly conservative Republicans.

    And you can have their birth control when you pry it from their cold, dead fingers.

    However, Jack Chick type Protestants should understand that Santorum is a slave to "the Whore of Babylon," and I wonder where in non-Latino America the fundamentalist Catholics are. Obviously, since he spends all his time figuratively kicking Latinos, he's not going to be courting their vote.

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  3. Oh, also, the above should not be seen as an endorsement of the tracts of that superstitious rube, Jack Chick. Just pointing out that it still isn't all one big happy Christian family nowadays.

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  4. St Mary Magdalene. I shoulda knowed! :-)

    But yes, it is exactly that "serious religious" type Santorum and his ilk and his brood represent (Good God, I saw his boys for the first time standing beside him at his "Game On" Iowa speech; the gene runs true...) Your description of them, Hag, is spot on. Thankfully, they are always a minority in any parish, usually a very small minority at that, but they always cause the most trouble for everyone else, and that's why they are so roundly disliked by the parishoners on the one hand and (usually) beloved by the priests and nuns on the other. I say "usually" because they can and do make plenty of trouble for the priests and nuns when they get revved up, and then they have to be "disciplined"... ahem.

    Plenty of them turn into creatures like Santorum...

    Meanwhile, Jack Chick... I haven't even heard that name in decades. Yeek. Thanks for the memories, pws. Coff...

    The interesting thing is that the Republican Aristos are promoting the shit out of Santorum's alleged "populism" -- and he's flogging the "Coal Miner's Grandson" Story for all it's worth -- as if it were some kind sure fire way to gather in the diminishing number of R sheep. His hyper rigid Catholicism, however, is definitely a turn off to many, and if he really is Opus Dei (I wouldn't doubt it myself), then even the Aristos would do well to be sickened by him.

    Ultimately, though, it doesn't take a lot of these fanatics to make plenty o' trouble for everyone else. Those who pretend it won't be "trouble" for them however, are in for a rude shock.

    The saving grace, if there is one, is that the ploy is transparent.

    If only that were enough...

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  5. The thing about seriously religious people, though, is they can fall into many categories. Some pour vials of blood on nuclear weapons sites... some imitate the Church Lady of Saturday Night Live fame.

    Of course, Pope Rat (formerly Inquisitor Rat) did his best to expel the former from the Catholic Church. I'm sure he misses the good old days of the Auto De Fa.

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  6. I've never been one to condemn religious believers outright. There are plenty of them who do try to live as if there was some truth to the Beatitudes and the Social Gospel. Bless them, every one.

    Unfortunately, established organized religion has failed in this country as has every other institution people rely on.

    Don't get me started with Ratzinger. For one thing he sounds like Peter Lorre in one of his more repellant roles.

    And have you seen his eyes? The man's eyes would scare the shit out of a vampire. No wonder he was St. JP II's Inquisitor General.

    Yeeek!

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